Checking out “closed” West OLH and VAM coming back up

View of the West Old LaHonda road washout taken from across the valley.
Today’s ride was the same and different from most-other Sunday rides. The same in that it was our usual Sunday loop, heading up Old LaHonda, down West Old LaHonda, over Haskins to Pescadero, Stage Road north and back via Tunitas. Different because-

First, I managed to, finally, get back over 1000 VAM for a climb. VAM is a measurement of how many meters you can climb in an hour. I have been struggling for some time to get back to semi-normal climbing speeds, mostly due to a combination of my breathing issues and weather that hasn’t been conducive for normal riding. It’s not like I climbed Old LaHonda all that quickly; still 23-something, but that’s better than anything I’ve done in quite some time. It likely helped that my son (Kevin) was slowed down a bit by a kidney stone issue, giving me something to pace instead of him just riding off & out of sight.

Heading down the other side (West Old LaHonda), yes, we came across “road closed” signs at the top, but rode on through without giving it much thought. We knew where the damaged section was, since we’d ridden up it on Thursday’s ride. We stopped at the scenic overlook, the place you often see cyclists stopping to admire the view of the coastal mountains and ocean beyond, and looked across the valley to where the damaged road was. That’s what you see in the photo at the top of the page. From what we could tell, there was enough remaining that we’d be able to get through, and this proved to be true. The road wasn’t that much different from when we’d ridden up Thursday, but definitely has that look of possibly disappearing entirely if one more car passed over it. We rode through with no issues, but if road crews were out working on it, there’s no way they’d let you pass.

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Is the “Atmospheric River” finally leaving us?

First time on West Old LaHonda under nice conditions in quite a while!
Yes, we finally got to leave our rain bikes at home! Not that we didn’t end up mistreating our nice bikes (Trek Emondas) pretty badly, with all the water weeping out of the hillsides onto the roads. But it wasn’t falling down from the sky, it wasn’t dark gray when we got up (or returned), and we were able to ride the full 31 miles instead of having to cut things short.

JR, both Kevins and me Thursday morning. We did finally see a small number of other cyclists out there, which was encouraging. And we confirmed that, if we don’t get hit hard by another crazy round of storms, it’s possible our favorite peninsula roads might continue to exist. Yes, lots of small mudslides here & there, and many more trees coming down on their own or being cut down before they can.

Another bright spot is the repair work on 84; instead of one insufferably-long single-lane partial-closure, it’s now split up into two much-shorter segments, each handled by an automated stop light. Total delays of only a couple minutes at each, which seems a lot better than 6 or 7 minutes all at once.

While we might have seen the end of the gnarly rains, it wasn’t just cool this morning, it was COLD. Not epic cold, but gradually dropped from 40 degrees at the base of Kings to a low of 31.6 along a good section of Skyline. We were dressed for it though, so it wasn’t much of an issue for us.

I think it’s time to tell our customers it’s safe to get back on their bikes and ride again. –Mike–

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